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Man City 2 Fulham 0 Pep Guardiola sends out a warning to Man City's title rivals after another comfortable win

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Raheem Sterling scores the opening goal (Alex Livesey/PA)

Raheem Sterling scores the opening goal (Alex Livesey/PA)

PA

Raheem Sterling scores the opening goal (Alex Livesey/PA)

PEP Guardiola believes his Manchester City team are starting to flex their muscles as they edged back into the top four with a comfortable 2-0 win over Fulham.

Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne struck early as Manchester City eased to a Premier League victory over Fulham in the 700th game of Pep Guardiola’s managerial career.

De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling left Scott Parker’s promoted side with a mountain to climb in what was also Guardiola’s 250th fixture at the helm as City won back-to-back league matches for the first time this season.

“We struggled at the beginning of the season for many reasons,” declared Guardiola. “Now four games, four clean sheets. It’s so important for us to maintain this solidity.

“The finishing was wasteful. We know we have to improve this, but it’s important to keep creating the chances. In the last 20 minutes, we lost too many simple balls, which is a problem. We have to do the simple things better. That is the next step.

“It’s important to get a good run of points. For the chances we had, yes [we should have scored more], but it was the same in Porto. It’s important that we won and that defenders don’t make mistakes and we don’t gift goals.

“It’s important to win games and clean sheets are a good fact, especially with the amount of chances we created again. The Fulham physicality was impressive. Scott Parker always has something tricky, you know, he did well against Leicester. Now everyone can beat everyone. That’s why it’s important for the victory and no injuries to go into the Champions League with fresh players.

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Kevin De Bruyne slots home the penalty (Peter Powell/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne slots home the penalty (Peter Powell/PA)

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Kevin De Bruyne slots home the penalty (Peter Powell/PA)

“We have to wait until the end of the weekend but what’s important is the feeling in the team. We will improve.”

Fulham boss Scott Parker found a silver lining in his side’s battling display after they conceded two goals in the opening 26 minutes.

“If you lose matches, you’re obviously disappointed, but I see a team that had some fight,” he said.

“I really liked what we were about in the second half. There’s no shame in losing to a quality side. I asked for spirit and personality and I thought we had that.

“The first half was tough. We changed it in the second half to try to get the ball in the right areas.

“The first few games we weren’t in the contest and since then we’ve been right in them. Today was another big performance. We’ll keep building.”

City took the lead as De Bruyne slid a perfectly-weighted pass into Sterling’s run to enable the England striker to fire City into a fifth-minute lead with his first goal in seven games.

Then the tables were turned when Sterling went to ground under defender Joachim Anderson’s challenge inside the penalty area and De Bruyne stepped up to make it 2-0 from the spot with just 26 minutes played.

De Bruyne rattled the crossbar five minutes after the restart, but with Fulham providing stiffer resistance after the break and keeper Alphonse Areola making a series of saves, City’s cutting edge largely deserted them.

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